New visitors centre for Kāpiti Island proposed

The public is invited to an exhibition by Victoria University of Wellington Masters of Architecture students on ideas for a visitors centre for Kāpiti Island.

The exhibition, Nature Building: Architectural Perspectives on a Visitor Centre for Kāpiti Island, openson Friday 16 March at 5:30pm at Coastlands Shopping Mall in Paraparaumu and runs until 26 March.

“The exhibit examines the way we shape, look at, play in, worship, measure, and ignore nature through a range of architectural responses to the brief for a visitor centre and biosecurity checkpoint for Kāpiti Island,” says Dr Sam Kebbell, senior lecturer in Victoria’s School of Architecture, and supervisor of the student projects.

He says they hope the Kāpiti community will engage with the redevelopment proposals through the exhibition. There is also a publication about each exhibit and writings about Kāpiti from local authors, iwi, the Mayor of Kāpiti, and Dr Kebbell.

“The student work presented in this exhibition contributes to the public discussion about architecture and our attitude to nature, especially here on the Kāpiti Coast. Each student presents a distinctly different approach to the tourist experience and the designated site.”

In addition to the individual ideas, the exhibition presents a collaborative proposal created through Victoria’s Summer Research scholarship programme. The collaborative proposal began with work by Masters student Callum Leslie, but combines many of the insights gained from the other student projects along with the professional expertise of Dr Kebbell, Associate Professor and structural engineer Andrew Charleson, and former Victoria Professors of landscape architecture, Martin Bryant and Penny Allan. This collaborative proposal is called the Kāpiti Watchtower, and it proposes a tower that looks out to the island, back to the Tararua ranges, and up to the night sky, with ‘piers’ that stretch to all four points of the compass.

“This project would be a powerful lens for observing the local environment. It would be a place for visitors to the island to gather before they go to Kāpiti Island, a place for locals to make their own, and it would be a dramatic upgrade on the fold-up plastic table that is the current biosecurity checkpoint. Kāpiti Island is a rich natural environment, and it needs to be matched by a rich built environment. The Kāpiti Watchtower invites us to look at the two together,” says Dr Kebbell.

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